Using our 'eyes of the ocean', Moby, our Trident mini-ROV, we observe a multitude of color and texture of different life forms. Identified by its deep red white-dotted column and red-brown-green tentacles, the white-spotted rose anemone can be seen both opened and closed. Waiting for a meal to swim by or drop in, this creature will stun its prey (plankton, small fish, an urchin or sea star that falls in to its mouth), using the stinging cells, called nematocysts, located in its tentacles. Also encountered on this expedition, bat stars, leather stars, sea urchins, coralline algae, sponges, and kelp. While this may look like a vast urchin barren, it is surrounded by kelp and seaweed on all sides, and sea otters are no stranger to this spot! If you can, slow down this footage, to look for signs of ecological intrigue; empty urchin shells, puffed up sea stars, and a variety of invertebrate life!
Point Lobos State Marine Reserve is one 124 Marine Protected Areas along the California coast. MPAs contribute to healthier, more resilient ocean ecosystems that can better withstand a wide range of impacts such as pollution and climate change. By protecting entire ecosystems rather than focusing on a single species, MPAs are powerful tools for conserving and restoring ocean biodiversity, and protecting cultural resources, while allowing certain activities such as marine recreation and research. There is a global body of scientific evidence about the effectiveness of marine protected areas and reserves to restore marine ecosystems (http://www.piscoweb.org).